MOUNT VERNON — The Fredericktown Veterinary Clinic will continue to be the spay-and-neuter services provider for the Knox County Dog Shelter, Knox County Commissioners have decided.

Commissioners sent a letter Thursday with the decision to the Knox County Humane Society (KCHS), which is principally a cat adoption shelter but provides spay-and-neuter services to cats and dogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. KCHS had offered to provide spay-and-neuter services to dog shelter dogs for a flat rate of $50 per dog. Currently, the Fredericktown Veterinary Clinic charges a rate of $110 per dog, but is a full-service clinic, commissioners noted, while KCHS has just one veterinarian, Elaine Sipka, and one vet tech.

Commissioners thanked KCHS for its offer, but offered that in making its decision had gathered input from Knox County Dog Warden John Carhart and the board members of the Dogs of Knox Fund, led by President Marla McCutchen. DKF raises funds throughout the year for medicine and food for shelter dogs, as well as providing volunteers who walk them and help find homes for the dogs.

It was highly important to consider DKF’s wishes when making the decision, commissioners wrote.

“The Knox County Animal Shelter has built a strong partnership with this local 501(c) organization,” they said about DKF. “They generously provide financial assistance to help with the medical care of our dogs, and we value their opinion.”

Commissioners also stated the specific advantages of staying with the Fredericktown Veterinary Clinic, offering, “They are a state-of-the-art animal hospital with staff trained in the most up-to-date medical advances. Their staff consists of four DVMs, six veterinary technicians and several office staff.”

KCHS officials, including board Chair Martha Otto, presented to commissioners Oct. 24 that they could handle all dog shelter dogs in need of spay-and-neuter services, most likely on Fridays. But she, and her lone veterinarian, Sipka, acknowledged they would not have overnight accommodations for the dogs. They would have to return to the dog shelter, which is without night staff and has a small number of volunteers on hand on Saturdays, the day after the spay-and-neuters would be performed.

That deeply concerned McCutchen when interviewed by the News. “What if one of the dogs were to run into trouble?” she posed. “Like I say, the Fredericktown vet clinic has been there for us, day and night. I just think we need to stay with a full-service facility to give these dogs the best spay-and-neuter services possible.”

Commissioners agreed, writing, “The (Fredericktown) clinic’s spay and neuter services include overnight accommodations and immediate assistance for possible post-operative complications. There is 24-hour availability, and a commitment from this clinic to our shelter dogs.”

Noting that the dog shelter can need as many as six or even up to eight dogs to be spayed and neutered at one time, commissioners wrote that overnight stays at a clinic and post-operative care becomes critical.

“After careful consideration of your proposal, we feel it is in the best interest of the Knox County Animal Shelter to remain with our current provider,” they wrote. “Thank you again for your time. We appreciate and value the services provided by the Knox County Humane Society.”

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews